Light gold color; mango, melon, pineapple on the nose; melon, yellow apple, apricot, peach on the palate.
Nice acidity (3.34 pH), bright fruitiness with whisper of sweetness. Round, full bodied for a chard. Will work as a starter at a party or paired with salad, lighter meat entrees, including fried chicken—the touch of buttery (they dialed back the malolactic fermentation this vintage—80%) will play well with the crackly skin.
The Toad Hollow name comes, according to the winery’s charming website, from the original owners, Dr. Toad (Todd Williams) and The Dancing Badger (Rodney Strong), two old friends who decided to start a winery in 1994 instead of enjoying retirement and rusting away. It remains family owned, although—from the website: “Heaven is a livelier place these days as both Dr. Toad and Mr. Badger have left their wine glasses with us here on Earth, but we know that these fine gentlemen toast us regularly, as we do them!” Frankie Williams, Todd’s widow, runs the winery now.
Frankie Williams has a colorful history that includes working for the CIA. She arrived in California in 1972 and met Dr. Todd Williams. They married in 1978 and operated a San Francisco bar named “Toad Manner.” Later, they opened the Whiskey River Inn in the Sierra Foothills before moving back to Sonoma and Healdsburg, where Frankie helped manage a law firm. After Todd passed on in 2007, Frankie vowed to continue and now enjoys her days surrounded by Russian River Valley vineyards and her long-time staff.
This is the 23rd vintage of Toad Hollow Vineyards Francine’s Selection Unoaked Chardonnay, Mendocino County, demonstrating that Toad Hollow was on the bandwagon for unoaked card before it was cool. Trend setter rather than follower. Very tasty, nice for the price, widely available. $13-16
Toad Hollow Vineyards Francine’s Selection Unoaked Chardonnay, Mendocino County
Second photo: Screen shot of Toad Hollow story on their website.